Imagine this scenario: Your beloved elderly mother is living in a nursing home when one of the caregivers physically assaults her, and there is ample evidence to pursue a claim in a court of law.
However, your elderly mother signed a ‘binding arbitration clause’ when she was admitted to the nursing home.
Because of that clause, she cannot sue the nursing home in court. Instead, she would actually have to go through an arbitrator to seek justice and compensation.
A binding arbitration clause bans the victim from having a jury hear the case, or having a judge with years of legal experience preside over the claim. And what’s worse is that this clause is typically buried in the fine print, so many people never even know what they’re signing.
If you’re thinking that this doesn’t seem like justice at all, you would be right, so we think it’s important for you to understand what arbitration means and how things could get worse in the near future.
How Does Arbitration WorkIn Nursing Home Abuse Claims?
With binding arbitration, any claim you have against a nursing home would be processed in arbitration, and the process includes:
- Secret Deliberations – The arbitration hearing is typically held in a private room in which only you, the nursing home representative and an arbitrator or arbitration panel are present.
- No Control Over Hiring of Arbitrator – In many instances, the supposed ‘neutral’ arbitrator has worked for nursing home facilities in other arbitrations, which means that he or she is far more likely to side with the nursing home rather than the victim.
- Decision Is Binding – If the arbitrator rules against you, that ruling is binding and not appealable, and in most cases, you have no further legal recourse.
While this process does not favor you, the good news is that you are not required by law to sign a nursing home admission agreement that contains an arbitration clause.
In fact, you can decline that clause and protect your right to take a claim to a court of law, but that can only happen if you read the fine print and make sure to tell the nursing home admission representative that you are declining the arbitration clause.
Legal Help With Arbitration Agreements
Arbitration agreements can create a huge legal issue if you or someone you love is trying to get justice after suffering abuse at the hands of caregivers at a nursing home. And the issue is only becoming more complicated because the federal government is attempting to ensure that any long-term facility that receives federal money be allowed to include an arbitration clause as a condition of admission. If you need help with a nursing home abuse claim that involves an arbitration clause, please call the team of Miller Weber Kory LLP at 602-648-4045 for a free consultation.